Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen
|Date & Time||Sunday February 18, 2018, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Tem LeBron -3.5 -- Over/Under: 346
Team LeBron and Team Stephen meet Sunday in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center.
Team LeBron will be led by Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who should be in the running for NBA Coach of the Year, leading his squad to the top record in the East at this point. Team LeBron has a loaded starting lineup led by LeBron, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving. That’s arguably three of the top-five best players in the league in one starting unit, and all four of those guys can get whatever shot they want on the court. The issue I have with Team LeBron is that this isn’t the team King James drafted. DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Kevin Love, Kristaps Porzingis and LaMarcus Aldridge aren’t able to play due to various injuries. That means borderline all stars in Andre Drummond, Paul George, Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker will be the teams reserves and it really hurts the overall depth of this squad. However, having Russell Westbrook on the bench gives Team LeBron new life considering he’s the one guy who plays hard regardless and has a chip on his shoulder even in all-star games. Team LeBron is top heavy but really talented nonetheless.
Team Stephen didn’t lose a single player to injury and is led by Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, who has turned his squad into a legit NBA title contender. Stephen Curry was able to get his teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on his squad, which adds some familiarity, and NBA MVP front-runner James Harden helps put the starting unit over the top. Team Stephen also has a major size advantage with the additions of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid, who is making his first all-star appearance, so you know he’ll be out to prove himself against the best in the world. Damian Lillard makes his first all-star bid since 2015 after being snubbed for years and Karl-Anthony Towns is possibly the most talented player on either bench. Curry also added DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, another team duo, which can be key with guys already knowing how to play together. Team Stephen may not have the top tier talent, but it’s deep, has a little bit of everything and has a couple of guys who have been waiting for an all-star invite, so you could see a little bit more passion from this squad.
It’s always tough to cap meaningless all-star games and I always advise people not to put serious money on these things. It’s unpredictable, guys don’t care much, and in NBA exhibition games especially, you don’t see defense until maybe the fourth quarter. The increase in prize money for the winners could increase competition, but guys are only going to play so hard in this thing. Recent freak injuries add even more reason to take it easy.
As for picking this game, I like getting points in all-star events. We’re also getting a free bucket with the healthier team in Team Stephen. Team LeBron has the better top tier talent, but the depth took a serious hit with all of those injuries. Team Stephen also has a size advantage with Embiid, Antetokounmpo and Towns, which will be key defensively and on the glass.
Give me Team Stephen and the free bucket, as free points are always valauble in games with no defense.